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The Gaza Truce May Be a Contemporary Ray of Hope However, Palestine’s Death Toll Will Be Etched into History.

Picture taken by (AP Photo/Doaa AlBaz - The Hill)

Even if the truce between Israel and Hamas plays out and the promise for the four-day pause in hostilities is fulfilled, the death toll for the civilians of Gaza is too immense, and the lives lost during Israel’s weapons are too horrific to even comprehend. The blood of the children, women, and men, murdered, are on their hands. It is understandable that Israeli authorities are seeking to sow doubt about the size of the death toll, because the numbers expose the gravity of the crimes being committed but, they must take accountability.

While some may argue that the health ministry is Hamas-run and therefore, its figures can never be trusted and sounds like a reasonable enough claim to perceive the death toll as a lie, those arguments would be retracted once you realise that in previous conflicts, the death toll reported by the ministry was largely consistent with the UN’s and even Israel’s counts. Last month, the ministry revealed the names, ages, and identification numbers of the victims, after President Biden raised his doubts. The health ministry estimates that currently, 13,300 have died after six weeks. This could very well be an underestimate, as a senior US official has conceded. Also, the figures do not include the unretrieved dead buried under rubble.

According to the independent Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, chaired by US emeritus law professor and former UN special rapporteur on Palestine, Richard Falk, the civilian death toll as of November 20 is 16,413, with 34,000 injured. This would mean in a month and a half, a devastating one in every 142 Palestinian civilians killed.

The sheer scale of what is happening is emphasised through the current statistics the health ministry has released, which is a tally of 13,300 dead when placed in the context of Gaza’s population of 2.2 million. But aren’t many of the deaths in Gaza not civilians, but Hamas militants? you might ask. The evidence suggests that this is not the case. The research by the Iraq Body Count project, which diligently compiled violent civilian deaths after the 2003 invasion, concluded last month that “few of the victims can have been combatants” within Gaza. Analysing the Ministry of Health data, they found only a “modest excess of adult males killed,” explained by their greater exposure to risk in, for instance, rescue efforts. When an estimated 70 % of the dead are women, children, and countless slain men, who are unlikely to be combatants, it is extremely difficult to conclude it as a rebut.

The war in Syria is a comparison we could make to reveal the intensity of the situation, and how this was one of the great moral obscenities of our age. The UN estimates that 307,000 civilians have met violent ends since 2011 and its pre-war population was just over ten times that of Gaza. Therefore, this means that after just six weeks, the death rate of Palestinians is approaching half that of Syrians after a decade of war, despite them having a much lower population.

While no comparison is perfect and every tragedy must most definitely be understood through its own terms, when you analyse the death of children within each conflict, macabre as it is, the statistics underline the unique and simply calamitous nature of this conflict in Gaza. In the first two years of the Syrian war, the represented estimation of children has been 10% of deaths, 8.6% in Iraq since 2003, and 6% in Ukraine since the invasion. However, in Gaza, the estimate for children’s deaths is a shocking and devastating 42%!

These numbers give a sense of the unacceptable, yet unusually brutal scale of what is happening in Gaza. Thanks to the courageous journalists and media workers who have put their lives at risk for this case – where dozens have been killed – we have evidence of the civilian toll in the most graphic detail possible. Is there not an urgency on behalf of Western politicians and multiple media outlets to put a stop to this? Is this genocide not as significant as Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine? How is it that only a handful number of supporters of Israel’s invasion have been able to admit that Hamas’s obscene atrocities of October 7 do not justify civilian death on this scale?

On the other hand, it is undeniable that there is wrong from both sides, the Israeli army said at least 391 soldiers have been killed since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict on October 7. The fatalities included 69 soldiers since Israel expanded its ground onslaught in the blockaded territory on Oct 27, according to The Times of Israel newspaper. The army has also said that another soldier was seriously injured in the Gaza Strip, and there are conflicting reports about the total number of Israeli soldiers killed in the Gaza Strip.

However, we must consider the fact that Israel is the country with the most development and that they have the most power to stop this war from continuing and to prevent any more fatalities.

This war is widespread and covered in all news outlets. Yet, why have our government not taken progressive steps to prevent any more casualties, or gift a range of economic, humanitarian, and defensive military assistance or aid to this small country, like they did for Ukraine? Nonetheless, violence from any side is unacceptable and, trying to not stop a war is also obnoxious.

Edited by Vicky Muzio.

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